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Journal for 12 Dec 2009: Resurfacing


So, uh, hi. Turns out I didn’t have much time to write over the past few months. Work has been its typical crazy self, and on the MBA side of things, it turns out that I can probably handle seven credits—which means no more than two classes at a time—but eight credits is one credit too many, especially when one of the courses is a finance class capable of threatening both life and limb. I survived the semester, though, and am back with the living for the next few weeks, before all the craziness begins again.

As hectic and sometimes stressful as life has been, it beats being bored. I don’t know what a typical life would be, but I’m glad that I can’t say I have one. (Key goal for 2010: Get my wife, who has been watching me run all over the place for work and school, to get to say the same thing.)

Thanksgiving was fine aside from Mathias making another asthma-related trip to the emergency room. My mom seemed to handle the first Thanksgiving without her husband of many years, as did everyone else, all things considered. The absence of my dad is still somewhat weird for me—we had broken things off months before his death, but I had expected him to still live many years, and had just a little hope, however slight, that he would’ve pulled out of his decades-long decline. There is still an abruptness to it all.

Work is challenging and fantastic at the same time. As I write this I’m on a British Airways 747 somewhere over Germany, heading back home after a week in India. (There were a few times this past week where I had to stop and think, holy shit, I actually do this for a living. The flip side, of course, is that I had a total of roughly four hours of downtime my entire week in India, so I’m looking forward to having Sunday off.) I have a great team in Bangalore, great people to work with in Minnesota, and all kinds of interesting (and sometimes stressful) problems to deal with. There are times I feel completely out of my depth… But it’s exciting, challenging, and, well, I do believe I’m getting better at what I do, so there’s that, too.

And with that, I’m heading back to my email. I’d been hoping to use my flight time to get close to inbox zero, but there’s a frustrating number of items—almost 100—that require me to have web access to close them out. I guess I know what I’ll be doing during my layover in London.

More later. Really!

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:48 am

Cleaning Out The Storage Room


I’m on a huge spring cleaning binge, five months late. So, uh, anyone want some old magazines?

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:42 pm



So, I’d like to take a brief moment to shake this blog out of it’s Data Analysis & Statistics for Managers-induced slumber to note that I also have a blog over on Tumblr.

Of all days, today seemed like an appropriate day to point that out.

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:04 pm

MinneBar in Review


Well, this is a severely dated subject now, but I wanted to mention that MinneBar was really impressive this year. My session-fu may have been a bit off with a couple of my session selections, but I did learn plenty, and met some cool folks along the way. Rich Hoeg’s session on Connectbeam and other enterprise social networking tools stood out, and will likely influence a few things I’ll be attempting at work over the coming year. The Lightning Round sessions were great, too: One of the sites highlighed,, is seriously causing me to consider getting a graphics tablet.

(I have a small group of links I picked up over the course of MinneBar over on

Challenges facing the Twin Cities tech community, both external and self-imposed, turned out to be a running theme of MinneBar this year. There were lots of questions and conversations about where the talent is going (NYC and SF, even though the opportunities may be better here), whether money is really only available on the coasts (no, but it seems that way), and what the area needs to do to get its entrepreneurial legs back (one option, covered in the State of the State session: stop being so damn timid). It’ll be interesting to see how the local industry is fairing the same time next year. While the view from my place of employment may not be as dim as it is with some other companies in the area, the challenges mentioned of finding quality talent are exceedingly familiar.

Anyway, it was a great time. I’m glad I attended, and look forward to next year.

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:14 pm

English Question


Okay, so I know it “a hyperactive baby” is correct, and “an occasionally delightful” is correct, but what do I do when I throw in parentheses? Should it be “a (occasionally) hyperactive” or “an (occasionally) hyperactive?”

Where’s my AP Stylebook? Right, at work. Fuck. (And why is it still there? It’s been well over five years since I had any role managing content.)

~ ~ ~

You know, Google sucks for this kind of question.

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:14 pm

Lisa Blogging


Lisa has rejoined the blogging world with Mathias Eugene, a blog mostly about our son, but about other things as well.  Right now its invite-only, so if you’re interested, send her an email.

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:38 pm

Turkey Party Update


Turkey Party 2007 has been bumped to November 10th. Details to follow.

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:57 pm

This Message Brought to you by the Turkey Advisory Board


Well, it’s about to be official at work, so it might as well be official here. The turkey in the freezer has a date on it. That date is Saturday, November 3rd.

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 pm

Quality of SXSWi Panel Notes


FYI: I’ll go through and edit all of them later. Lots of link fixing, spelling crap and other issues to resolve.

Posted in SXSW,SXSW Panels,Uncategorized at 2:06 pm

SXSWi Panel: Mobile Application Design Challenges



  • Cheng
  • James
  • Poisson (radar)
  • Wilhelm
  • King

(They changed rooms without telling anyone. I was 10 minutes late, but at least I had company.)

Jones: Does some prototyping by putting post-it notes on blocks of wood.

King: User testing for mobile (while person is texting while driving or whatever) is more difficult than watching someone us a PC.

Wilhelm: Have people walk around with a block and ask them what they’d like to do with that block.

Q: What kind of metrics do you use when designing for mobile?

Poisson: Clicks are gold. Saving an extra click, multiplied millions of customers, is a lot of effort saved. Used instead of .com because .net is easier to type on a mobile device.

King: Does a lot with click tracking as well.

Wilhelm: Assume a lot of upload failure and interruption when dealing with files. Make sure that kind of issue handling is built in from the start.

Poisson: You need to think about about time limits and attention span limits much more than you would on a desktop application.

Jones: Need to think of a three-second attention span. No clicking off rules and conditions screens.

Q: You have all these inputs and outputs… Text, voice, photos, etc… What makes you try to write a custom app rather than shove everything over SMS?

King: Depends on what you need to do? Sending photos over SMS would suck.

Q; At Nokia, how much time do you spend designing beyond the phone?

Jones: It’s more about about the interraction between the cloud and the little thing you’re communicating with. More focus on connections to web services. Mobile makers kind of make the equivalent of a wiki stub asking themselves or others to fill it in later. By doing that pattern of stub-making gets you to open really interesting ideas.

Q: Flash lite is not supported by majority of phones. How does one go about testing one’s app on all these phones when emulators are not that great?

King: Flash Lite is an excellent prototyping tool, but not ready for actual design yet.

Poisson: For applications, you can’t build once and use everywhere. You need to know going in you need to prep for a range of devices. Know the platforms your users use and try to build for them.

Wilhelm: deviceanywhere, etc. You can check out and test other phones online. Not 100% accurate, but better than buying every different model.

Jones: Look at the presentation by Brian Fling yesterday. (My notes from Fling’s presentation.) Get five or so varried phones, and test against them.

Wilhelm: Try to group devices and find similarities and then test against examples in those categories.

Poisson: Join developer networks from mobile manufacturers. Lots of good information from them.

Q: What are your practical strategies on getting people to use your applications? Off-deck or on-deck?

Wilhelm: Off-deck: Distribution not managed by carrier. On-deck: Distribution by carrier. Off deck allows full-control of experience for user. Lots of pain to get on-deck. Some carriers have a lot of rules and regulations about what you can do in your application.

Poisson: Carriers still have some control when you’re off-deck. Just get your app out there, see what people want to do and go from there. If it works, carriers may come to you about tying your tool to their device.

Wilhelm: Maybe build teirs into your service.

Q: What do you think of development of browsers for phones?

King: Opera browser for mobile is great.

Jones: Look at what Fling said. Pare site down to attention-friendly components.

Q: Do you have any favorite resource for mobile design patterns?

Jones: W3C Mobile Web Initiative… Plus developer networks. We’re still learning this stuff as we go. Look up small services blog.

Posted in SXSW,SXSW Panels,Uncategorized at 1:45 pm
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